All that is dear to me and everyone I love
are of the nature to change. There is no way
to escape being separated from them.
As my beloved & my sister-in-law held vigil, my beloved mother-in-law slipped away. Left behind her desolate children (I include myself & my other sister-in-law), her broken-hearted grandchildren, and so very many friends, former students, and people I’m sure I will never know. There are so few ways to say goodbye to our most loved. Especially if you have no belief you’ll see them again.
My mother-in-law has been a second mother to me. When I had questions about parenting, she would let me process. When I wanted to know about her days as a (very successful & well-loved) teacher, she would share her stories. She made my favourite birthday cake for decades (angel food cake w/ 7 minute frosting, & fresh strawberries. My two sons were her delight, and she kept them while I did master’s research work, all by herself. I realise now what a gift that was! Not that I have ever taken her for granted.
Now that I too am older, I’m fairly certain this is how she would like to be remembered, beautiful and celebrating, at my marriage to her perfect younger son. Age is not always a kind process, and Mom wasn’t always beautiful to strangers. But there was a time when her incredibly beautiful heart & mind matched her fine-boned loveliness, and that made her very happy.
She was funny, my Mom. Had a puckish sense of humour, and a keen wit. Educated as a Shakespeare & Chaucer scholar, she knew her literature. She also knew the human condition, from decades of teaching hormonal middle schoolers. She taught me patience, how to cook, a love of birds, and so many other things & ways to love.
Mom, I can’t believe it’s over, these long past months of retreating further & further into someplace we couldn’t quite reach you. I wish for you whatever happiness follows all the days of joy & generous attention you gave me. I wish you peace & light. I wish you the love you taught me is possible for a mother of the heart. I wish I may somehow learn to let go my grief for you. Go well, dearest heart. I will always miss you.